Is the Press Wrong About the New Pope?
Pope Francis I has been full of surprises. But even more startling has been the news media’s incredible inaccuracy as they embrace the Pontiff as a liberal, an evangelical, a renegade and one of their own.
“Last month America’s oldest gay magazine, the Advocate, hailed Francis as its person of the year because of the compassion he had expressed towards homosexuals. It was hardly a revolution: Article 2358 of the Catholic church’s catechism calls for gay people to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity.’
“In simply restating Catholic teaching, however, Francis was hailed as a hero. When a Maltese bishop said the pope had told him he was ‘shocked’ by the idea of gay adoption, that barely made a splash. Time magazine, too, made Francis person of the year, hailing him for his ‘rejection of Church dogma.’ But for cockeyed lionisation of Francis it would be hard to beat the editors of Esquire, who somehow managed to convince themselves that a figure who wears the same outfit every day was the best dressed man of 2013.”Francis I with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (Photo: Mexican government)
“Some pundits,” write Coppen, “have noticed the gulf between what you might call the Fantasy Francis – the figure conjured up by liberal imagination – and the actual occupant of the Chair of St Peter. James Bloodworth, editor of the political blog Left Foot Forward, recently urged his journalistic allies to show some restraint. ‘Pope Francis’s position on most issues should make the hair of every liberal curl,’ he wrote. ‘Instead we get article after article of saccharine from people who really should know better.’
“For a while, it seemed inevitable that the new Pope’s fans would come to realise he is not about to bless women bishops, condom use, gay marriage and abortion – and then they would turn on him. Now, that seems unlikely. Having invented the Fantasy Francis, his liberal well-wishers may never want to kill off their creation.”
“In fact, we have yet to see the kinds of doctrinal tinkering the media has attributed to him,” writes Moss. “When it comes to the hot-button cultural issues that animate the Rush Limbaughs of the world, nothing has changed. Francis has been clear that the church’s position on abortion is not up for discussion, and he recently excommunicated Father Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia, presumably for officiating at unsanctioned gay marriages. This pope may be